posted on Oct, 1 2019 @ 11:56 AM
In a 2004 report entitled “Can the Planet Feed Us?”, an environment correspondent, stated: “The world does produce enough to feed everyone. But
the food is often in the wrong place, or unaffordable, or can’t be stored long enough. So making sure everyone has enough to eat is more about
politics than science.” With proper oversight of the earth and efficient management of its resources, there should be no reason to fear a
According to projections of the UN Population Fund, world population may reach 14 billion before leveling off. Others, however, estimate that it may
peak at between 10 billion and 11 billion. Whatever the case, even if the world population should grow to the extent predicted, the number of
people is not the problem.
Can the earth produce enough to feed 10 billion or 14 billion people? That is a difficult question to answer because it depends on what is meant by
“enough.” While hundreds of millions of people in the world’s poorest nations cannot get enough food to maintain even a minimum, healthful diet,
people in the rich, industrialized nations are suffering from the consequences of an overly rich diet—strokes, some types of cancer, heart
disease, and so on.
As far as the total quantity of food produced is concerned, note what the book Bread for the World says: “If present world food production
were evenly divided among all the world’s people, with minimal waste, everyone would have enough. Barely enough, perhaps, but enough.” That
statement was made in 1975. What was the situation in 1991? According to the World Resources Institute, “over the past two decades, total world food
output expanded, outpacing demand. As a result, in recent years, prices of major food staples in international markets declined in real terms.”
Other studies showed that the prices for staples like rice, corn, soybeans, and other grains dropped by half or more over that period.
What all of this boils down to is that the problem of food lies not so much in the quantity produced as in the level and the habits of consumption.
New genetic technology has found ways to produce varieties of rice, wheat, and other grains that can double the present output. However, much of the
expertise in this area is concentrated on cash crops, such as tobacco and tomatoes, to satisfy the appetite of the rich rather than to fill the
stomachs of the poor.
More and more, those who are keeping a close eye on the subject are coming to realize that population growth is only one of the factors posing a
threat to mankind’s future welfare. For example, the authors of the book The Population Explosion argue that countries like the United States
are overpopulated, not because they have too many people, but because their level of affluence depends on a high rate of consumption of natural
resources and technologies that exact a heavy toll on the environment.
Other studies seem to bear this out. The New York Times quotes economist Daniel Hamermesh as saying that ‘greenhouse emissions are more
closely related to the level of economic activity than the numbers of emitters. The average American generates 19 times as much carbon dioxide as the
average Indian. And it is entirely possible that, say, an economically vibrant Brazil with slow population growth would burn down its tropical forests
more rapidly than an impoverished Brazil with rapid population growth.’
Making basically the same point, Alan Durning of the Worldwatch Institute observes: “The richest billion people in the world have created a form of
civilization so acquisitive and profligate that the planet is in danger.”
It becomes apparent that blaming population growth alone for the woes facing mankind today is missing the real point. The issue facing us is not that
we are running out of living space or that the earth is incapable of producing enough food or that all the natural resources will be used up anytime
soon. These are merely the symptoms. The real issue is that more and more people are aspiring to a higher and higher level of material consumption
without considering the consequence of their actions. This insatiable desire for more is taking such a heavy toll on our environment that the
earth’s carrying capacity is fast being exceeded. In other words, the basic problem lies not so much in the number as in the nature of humanity.
Writer Alan Durning puts it this way: “In a fragile biosphere, the ultimate fate of humanity may depend on whether we can cultivate a deeper sense
of self-restraint, founded on a widespread ethic of limiting consumption and finding non-material enrichment.” The point is well-taken, but the
question must be asked, Is it likely that people everywhere will voluntarily cultivate self-restraint, limit consumption, and pursue nonmaterial
enrichment? Hardly. Judging by the self-indulgent and hedonistic life-style so prevalent today, the opposite is more likely to occur. Most people
today seem to live by the motto: “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we are to die.”—1 Corinthians 15:32.
Even if enough people wake up to the facts and start changing their way of life, we would still not be able to turn things around anytime soon.
Witness the many environmental activist groups and alternative life-styles that have appeared over the years. Some of them may have succeeded in
getting into the headlines, but have they had any real impact on the ways of so-called mainstream society? Hardly. What is the problem? It is that the
entire system—commercial, cultural, and political—is geared to promoting the concept of built-in obsolescence and throwaway consumerism. In
this context there can be no change without a thorough reconstruction from the foundation up.
The situation may be likened to that of a family living in a furnished and fully equipped house provided by a benefactor. To make them feel completely
at home, they are given permission to use all the facilities in the house to their satisfaction. What would happen if the family began to damage the
furniture, tear up the floor, smash the windows, clog up the plumbing, overload the electric circuits—in short, threaten to ruin the house
completely? Would the owner just passively observe and not do anything? Not likely. He would no doubt take action to remove the destructive tenants
from his property and then restore it to its proper condition. No one would say that such action was not justified.
Are we not like tenants living in a well-furnished and superbly equipped house provided by the Creator, Jehovah God? As the psalmist put it: “To
Jehovah belong the earth and that which fills it, the productive land and those dwelling in it.” (Psalm 24:1; 50:12) God has not only supplied us
with all the necessities that make life possible—light, air, water, and food—but he has also provided them in great abundance and variety to
make life enjoyable. Yet, as tenants, how has mankind behaved? Unfortunately, not very well. We are literally ruining this beautiful home in which we
are living. What will the owner do about it?
“Bring to ruin those ruining the earth”—that is what God will do! (Rev. 11:18) And how will he do it? The Bible answers: “In the days of
those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be brought to ruin. And the kingdom itself will not be passed on to any other
people. It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite.”—Daniel 2:44.